How to Produce a Elementary School Mardi Gras Parade
image by iStockphoto
Kids don’t have to live in New Orleans to take part in a Mardi Gras parade. With a little help from school staff and the PTA, any elementary school can host a parade for the neighbors, parents, nearby daycare centers and businesses.
Key ingredients include floats, throws, costumes, music and, of course, spectators to catch the throws while they enjoy watching the “Krewe of [the name of the school]” parade roll by.
Research the date of Mardi Gras for the upcoming year. If Mardi Gras Day is not a school holiday in your town, plan for the parade to roll then. Plan the parade for a week earlier if the school is closed on Mardi Gras Day.
Contact your local police department and explain what you are doing. Ask if they will block off a four- to six-block radius around the school during parade time. Also, ask if an officer or two can be present during the parade.
Create a flyer and print it on colorful paper. Let the children take them home to their parents and post them on lampposts and in the windows of neighborhood businesses. Deliver them to nearby daycare centers. Mail them to local morning television show hosts, and follow up with a call asking them to mention it during the week of the parade.
Write a press release and send it to the local newspaper and radio stations. Call and ask to have it listed in the Community Events section of the Sunday paper and again on parade day.
Decorate wagons to make floats. Older children can pull younger ones while they both toss beads and trinkets to the crowd.
Other floats can be made from decorated cardboard boxes, which can be carried by the children who make them. Use the largest boxes practical. Decorate with crepe paper, construction paper, glitter, finger paints and watercolors.
If your school is located near a supermarket, ask the manager if you can borrow some shopping carts the day before the parade. Decorate them, let young children ride inside, and have older children, teachers or parents push them. Return the carts right after the parade.
Elect a Mardi Gras king and queen. If a teacher or parent has access to a convertible, let the king and queen ride in the back seat, dressed in dressy clothing or costumes with crowns while they wave their scepters at the crowds. If a convertible is not available, have them ride in a truck bed, but devise a way to ensure their safety.
Visit an online Mardi Gras outlet. You can find a case of 720 strings of beads for as little as $30, six dozen green snake whistles for $2.95, six dozen 4-inch plastic skimmer Frisbee-like rings (without the covering) for $3.95, 100 Mardi Gras coins for $4, and 48 kazoos for $2.85.
Make simple but colorful costumes. Use lots of purple, green and gold—the Mardi Gras colors. Use face paints, or make hats, swords and wands for pirates, princesses and such. Children with Hula-hoops or batons can march together, as can acrobats or gymnasts doing cartwheels and other feats. Everyone in the parade should be in costume.
Download some Mardi Gras music and play it from boom boxes spaced throughout the parade. If the school has a band, it should march and play. If not, you can create a percussion band using wooden sticks, spoons, pots and other metal materials. A kazoo band is also fun.